Julie McCarthy

Amnesty International released its annual report Thursday, highlighting a worsening of human rights worldwide.

The report covering 159 countries claims that increasingly world leaders are "undermining the rights of millions," either by turning a blind eye to violations of human rights or by perpetrating them.

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Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.


The road through central Bhutan rises through frost-dusted evergreens reaching a pass where travelers pause to take in the Himalayas majestically stretching across the north. Steep forests descend into valleys coursing with crystalline rivers and pine-scented air. The wind howls down the canyons furiously flapping prayer flags, and setting temple chimes to sing.

Shades of Shangri-La?

Perhaps, but don't tell the Bhutanese that.

The host of the Winter Olympics, South Korea, excels in the summer game of archery. They grabbed gold medals in all four categories in Rio.

But the tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan may be less than awed. Bhutan claims archery for its national sport, and archers pay no heed to the plunging temperatures of winter when they compete propelling arrows across a field.

And if you think of archery as a decorous game, think again.

As you clutch a cuppa for a bit of winter warmth, spare a moment to consider the elaborate process that goes into producing that seemingly simple sip of tea.

In the biggest tea-growing region in India, the hazards alone range from red spider mites to herds of wild elephants.

Grower Tenzing Bodosa, a native of Assam, fights the former and unusually invites the latter.

From the large Bodo tribe and widely known by his first name, Tenzing stands beside the vermilion flames of a brick oven that provides the heat for a drying contraption erected in his backyard.

On a journey to the little known Northeast region of India, you may encounter a dizzying array of traditional tribes, rugged beauty and wildlife, including the rare white rhinos. It's here we discover perhaps an even rarer creature: the "Forest Man of India." A humble farmer from a marginalized tribal community, Jadav Payeng has single-handedly changed the landscape in his state of Assam.

It bills itself as the "God's Own Garden," and this tribal village tucked in India's remote northeast is unlike any other in the country.

Mawlynnong is free from what plagues so much of rural and urban India: litter, burning garbage and open defecation, the latter punishable by fine.

Reaching this mini-Shangri-La is a commitment, as we climb evergreen-studded mountain roads, peer into emerald valleys, and plateau into lush vegetation that overlooks the border with Bangladesh to the south.

Rahul Gandhi, the 47-year-old scion of India's Nehru-Gandhi family, takes the helm of the National Congress Party this week, raising questions about the potency of the political opposition in the world's biggest democracy.

Rahul succeeds his mother, Sonia Gandhi, 71, who steps down amid concerns of ill health, and ends a record 19 years as party president.

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As China's clout in the Asia-Pacific region rises, the United States is wooing India into a closer embrace.

Standing beside Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj during his maiden visit to South Asia as secretary of state this week, Rex Tillerson said the United States "supports India's emergence as a leading power."

India is set to celebrate Diwali this week, but the Indian capital could be in for a different sort of celebration.

Once illuminated with clay lamps, the festival of lights has morphed into a festival of sound and fury.

It's estimated some 50,000 tons of fireworks are exploded during Diwali, which marks the homecoming of the Hindu god Lord Ram from exile. But a public health alarm was sounded in Delhi after Diwali last year, when a toxic haze blanketed the city for days.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.